Loose Leash Walking – Keep it Simple!

April 18, 2012 | By More

Stop & Go

As positive trainers, we use “shaping” to train our dogs to do many things. From basic behavior, to tricks, sports, and even desensitization. When we shape, we reward the dog for close approximations of the final behavior we are teaching. Taking baby-steps and reinforcing the dog along the way to the end goal can build confidence and keep the dog interested in working.

For instance, trying to lure a puppy to lie down on command could take a while for the puppy to understand. When shaping, you might reward the pup for just bending his head down, and then reward the play bow, then an extended foot, etc. until the pup is down. Shaping can help keep the exercise fun instead of frustrating.

A client recently asked me how we could use shaping to teach loose leash walking. I hadn’t actually thought about it before. But although shaping can be used for some of the finer points of leash walking and heeling, when initially teaching your dog not to pull on the leash, the information must be very clear and consistent.  Any tension on the leash will stop all forward motion, period! Allowing the dog pull just a little but not too much, is not going to be clear enough for the dog to know what you are asking. Keep it simple. Any tension on the leash means “stop,” slack leash means “go.”

This can be a frustrating exercise for most dog handlers because it can take time.  However it is a simple rule “if you pull, we stop.”   The more sophisticated points of shaping are not needed here since it is so basic and easy to understand.  In fact, no words are necessary (“stop” “don’t pull” “sit” “come back” Fido, come”).  Just let the the leash do all the talking and be consistent.  

And be sure to enjoy walks with your dog every day.

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Category: All Posts, Dog Training Tips

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  1. Onur says:

    Joslyn, April 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm not as clean as other parks ive been to but lots of areas for owners to relax while their dogs play and faetcs for fresh water!